Chip Ganassi Racing joins the Red Bull Global Rallycross

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The Red Bull Global Rallycross series continues to grow and attract participation from some of the biggest names in motorsport. Already, the series features racing giants such as Andretti Autosport, Subaru Rally Team USA, Hyundai/Rhys Millen Racing, and Ken Block’s Hoonigan Racing Division. The series also features some top-level driving talent such as action sports superstars Ken Block, Travis Pastrana, Bucky Lasek, and Tanner Foust, and even former Formula 1 drivers Scott Speed and Nelson Piquet, Jr. (aka Jr. Jr.). The series also also attracted the interest of some European rallycross teams and drivers, and with the success of last season, the grid will grow by two more cars and one more team.

Chip Ganassi Racing, most notable for their participation in IndyCar, NASCAR, and the TUDOR United Sportcar Championship, announced that they will field two Ford Fiesta STs piloted by Brian Deegan in the No. 38 RockStar Energy Drink Ford Fiesta ST, and Steve Arpin No. 00 ENEOS Ford Fiesta ST. Deegan is well known to those who follow the action sports/X-Games scene having made a name for himself in various MotoX events at the X-Games before moving into off-road truck racing and rallycross.

“This has been a life-long goal to be partnered with a world class racing organization that has won numerous championships from the Indianapolis 500 to the Daytona 500 to the Rolex 24 At Daytona. I look forward to working with them and building a winning GRC program that can win GRC championships.” — Brian Deegan

Like Deegan, Steve Arpin is no stranger to the loose stuff, nor to racing a wide variety of machines. Arpin started out in karts like most racers, but the Canadian quickly found snowmobile racing during the winter, and dirt-track racing during the warmer months, winning races and championships along the way. The circle track racing led Arpin to compete in ARCA and then into NASCAR’s Camping World Truck Series and Nationwide Series. In 2013, he returned to the loose stuff joining OMSE2 in the Red Bull Global Rallycross.

“I couldn’t be more thrilled to be a part of such an established team like Chip Ganassi Racing entering GRC with the support of Loenbro and partnership with ENEOS. For me, being a race car driver my whole life, this is the opportunity of a lifetime and one that any driver would dream of. Mr. Ganassi has set a high standard with the way he operates his race teams both on and off the race track, and just through the early stages of preparing for this season it is easy to see why the organization has such long-lasting partnerships and why its employees wear the team’s logo with so much pride.” — Steve Arpin

The biggest question I have about this program is why is Chip running with Ford? I’m a huge fan of Ford and especially the Fiesta ST; after all, I own and race one. Ganassi’s IndyCar and NASCAR programs are affiliated with Chevrolet, however. It is true that his Daytona Prototype program is powered by Ford, so there is president, but I would have expected him to field a couple of Sonics before the FiST. The FiST is the better platform, in my hugely biased opinion, but I still find the choice a bit surprising.

“As a fan of motorsports I’m particularly interested in the GRC cars, their horsepower levels and the absence of traction control but make no mistake about it, we are in this series to win – both on and off the race track. Also, GRC has proven to be a very innovative and fresh take on today’s motorsport product. The series is targeting a new demographic and aligns with ours and more importantly with our partners’ focus on connecting with Millennials.” — Chip Ganassi, Owner, Chip Ganassi Racing Teams

As Mr. Ganassi mentions, this series appeals to a demographic that just isn’t as interested in IndyCar or NASCAR as those of us who grew up in the 70s and 80s were, and that’s a huge attraction to sponsors. The fledgling series is now up to twenty drivers and eleven teams in their top Supercar class. The challenge now is to retain those teams and drivers and to grow the fan interest and TV viewership. Unfortunately, a lot of the series events are held in parking lots of sporting arenas which makes for short mickey mouse circuits with a pile of dirt thrown in for a jump. Last year, they held an event at the Dirt Fish Rally School and showed that on a proper venue, the formula can generate some fantastic rallycross action similar to what we see in European rallycross. As the series grows, the opportunities to race at venues such as Dirt Fish will also grow. I’m cautiously optimistic and hopeful that this sport takes off.

h/t: Mike Shaw, OpenPaddock.net

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